The chocolate world began back in Central and South America at least 2000 years ago, and it may be older than that. What we know today as chocolate is made from a bean called the cacao bean. In ancient Aztec times the beans were so cherished that they were used as currency to buy other items.
The confection did not get sweetened until Europeans got hold of it. Aztec King Montezuma gave some to Herman Cortez, mistaking him for a reincarnated deity. Described as a "bitter drink for pigs" at first, when sweetened with sugar or honey, the taste treat rapidly became popular throughout Europe.
It was believed to have aphrodisiac, medicinal and nutritious qualities, and was a food of the rich until the industrial revolution made mass production possible in the late 1700's.
In 1828, Dutch processed cocoa was invented by a chemist in the Netherlands. He removed about half of the cocoa butter (fat) from some chocolate liquor, then pulverized what remained and treated it with alkaline salts to remove the bitter taste.
The first modern chocolate bar was created in 1847 by a man named Joseph Fry, who put some of the cacao butter back into the Dutch processed cocoa. It was then molded into a chocolate bar. This set the stage for commercial production.
By 1868 the Cadbury company was marketing chocolates in Europe, followed shortly by the milk chocolate of the Nestle company. Chocolate was used sometimes in place of pay during the American revolutionary war.
In modern times, chocolate is still an economic force, to the price tag of more than $4 billion per year. Chocolate production continues to expand and change.
From its humble beginnings as a bean and fruit that pleased the rich and was even used for money, to its modern day usage in candy bars and sweets, chocolate has earned itself a sweet place in history.